Aurora College completes first phase of transformation to a polytechnic University

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Yellowknife — December 21, 2021

Work to create a new polytechnic university for the Northwest Territories (NWT) took a significant step forward with the unanimous passage of Bill 30: An Act to Amend the Aurora College Act by the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories on December 8, 2021.

The new legislation sets the stage for the creation of a truly arm’s length post-secondary institution – a feature for the governance of the new polytechnic that the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has repeatedly heard is a priority for NWT residents. 

The amendments to the Act establish a new governance system, which will include three governing bodies: Board of Governors, Academic Council and Indigenous Knowledge Holders Council.  The bill was strengthened by a number of recommendations from the Standing Committee on Social Development as part of their review of the proposed legislation, including recommendations to: increase the minimum number and proportion of Indigenous Northerners required on the Board, increase the autonomy of the Board through changes to the Chair and Vice-Chair appointment process, and require consultation with Indigenous governments on the composition of the Indigenous Knowledge Holders Council.

Passage of the bill concludes Phase One of Aurora College’s transformation process, which was focused on strengthening the foundation of the College through the development of up-to-date policies and procedures, foundational plans and strategies, and a program review framework to guide future program decisions.  Phase Two will bring more visible and dramatic changes, including changes to the College’s organizational structure, new campus infrastructure, and the introduction of legislation to establish the new polytechnic university.


“This legislation is a true example of the strength of consensus government.  The new Aurora College Act will better serve the College and the people of the Northwest Territories because of the work of the Standing Committee on Social Development.  I want to thank them for their input and work on this legislation.”

“I am excited that we are one step closer to establishing a truly arm’s-length institution; one that is once again governed by a Board of Governors, and will also include an Academic Council and an Indigenous Knowledge Holders Council.  This is a unique, tricameral governance model designed in the North to ensure effective and efficient governance that is reflective of the people of the Northwest Territories. ”

- R. J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment

Quick Facts

  • Bill 30 amends the Aurora College Act to create a new approach to governance based on the introduction of a competency-based board.
  • The Bill reallocates powers from the Minister to the Board, limiting the Minister’s role in the operations of Aurora College.
  • Currently, Aurora College only has one governing body as part of the governance system, namely the Board of Governors.  Under this new Act, it will have a “tricameral” governance system, meaning three government bodies: Board of Governors, Academic Council and Indigenous Knowledge Holders Council.

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